Photo: The viewpoint on the way to the supposed lighthouse.

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Satonda Island

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One of the popular stops for the Lombok to Flores boat trips, Satonda Island is an attractive blip of an island with a crater lake at its centre. It’s found just off the coast of northern Sumbawa and within easy boat-trip distance of the mainland.

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The island is a flooded volcano — the lake is salt water, not fresh. The story goes that when Tambora erupted, a massive wave washed over the edge of Satonda’s crater rim, filling it with water. A second popular story is that the trees lining the edge of the lake have the power to grant wishes. What you do is tie a rock to one of the trees and make a wish. If the wish subsequently comes true it is your duty to return to the island and give thanks. We were tempted to make a wish for a more reasonably priced boat to the island, but as we didn’t really want to risk needing to come back, we gave it a miss.



There is a single, quite expensive resort on the island (Satonda Island Resort; T: (0857) 3721 7794;, which is set on the primary beach. They charge non-guests a nominal charge to access the very pretty lake, which we assume they don’t actually own.

Once you’ve paid up, you need to walk through the resort and up and over a small ridge — there are stairs. Note that at the top of the stairs, footpaths run off to the left and right. The left set go to a viewpoint that offers a pretty decent view over the beach — there is apparently a lighthouse as well, but the trail was too overgrown for us to find it. The lake itself is very pretty and while there are no fish in it, you are allowed to swim should you wish (no extra charge for that) and can get in via a small platform that sits by the water’s edge.

The fierce Satonda Lake Monster.

The fierce Satonda Lake Monster.

The other attraction here is the snorkelling. The liveaboard trips from Lombok to Flores stop here for snorkelling and it is pretty good. We’d say Takat Segele at Pulau Moyo is considerably better, but it is still pretty decent here — you do need to swim out to a drop-off to get past all the dead coral, but it isn’t too far. There are other beaches on the island, particularly on the northeast coast, which may be worth investigating if you can convince your boatman to take you to them.

The wallet buster.

The wallet buster.

The problem with Satonda is getting there. From Pancasila you need to get an ojek to Nganamiro, which costs 50,000 rupiah one way, and then from Nganamiro you need to charter a boat to the island. Our boatman demanded 500,000 rupiah for the trip which, given it takes just 30 minutes, was extortionate. He would not budge on price. This combined with the ojek there and back makes for a 600,000 rupiah trip from Pancasila for a lone traveller. We’d say putting that cash towards a trip to Moyo Island is a far better spend.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Tambora.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Tambora.
 Read up on how to get to Tambora.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Tambora? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.

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